Aug 042010
 
A 'nest' of surveillance cameras at the Gillet...
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If it hasn’t become apparent to you yet, you are living in an age when your every online step is being monitored.

The notion of communications privacy has been steamrolled in the interests of security, and the occasional tiny chance we get to peek back at the people who make it their business to watch us is truly frightening. Two new stories from America this week give a rare glimpse behind the curtain at just how closely you’re being watched, and by whom.

Online privacy: now virtually nonexistent

Do yourself a favor and check out Glenn Greenwald’s article at Salon.com, titled “Project Vigilant and the government/corporate destruction of privacy.” In the article, he shows how the United States government neatly sidesteps any legal restraints that might prevent it from gathering information on its citizens – in this case, by accepting dossiers from a network of private cyber-vigilantes that operates in near-total secrecy and with no accountability to mechanisms like the Privacy Act or the Freedom of Information Act.

This group is comprised of as many as 500 operatives, some of whom have experience in data security and surveillance after leaving top-level positions at organizations like the U.S. Department of Justice, Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the NSA, the New York Stock Exchange… and they are exploiting loopholes in ISP contracts to mine data on every step you take online.

Project Vigilant is just one further tool the U.S. government uses when it can’t get what it wants – let’s not forget that as the ‘War on Terror’ escalated, the NSA showed through its warrantless wiretapping program that it believes that such privacy laws as there are stopping the government from spying on its own citizens are at best flexible, or at worst to be completely ignored. And it’s not like the Obama administration has made amends in this regard – if anything, they’ve pushed the Bush agenda even further.

So your online communications – including your browsing history, forum participation, social networks, emails and transactions can all be considered to be laid bare on the table, tracked back to your real-world identity and locations, by whoever decides it’s worth doing.

Read more . . .

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